Wednesday's Book: Promises Lovers Make When It Gets Late by Darian Leader
Wednesday 19 November 1997
We're back again in the land of Why Do Women Write More Letters Than They Post?, a best-seller whose relative difficulty attests to the perpetual yearning for guidance on love. It is a world mapped out by Freud, Lacan and a Leader fave, where expectations of human happiness are, to say the least, low, and the rules are most often achieved by inverting what we think of as reality. It is at times madly irritating. But we are all the inheritors of Freud; and the simplicities of, say, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, which proposes that men and women really do inhabit different planets (though they might just hail from the same solar system) leaves an even grimmer Hobbesian after-taste.
Leader is a psychoanalyst and it is unsurprising that he loathes self- help books, which he claims are less complex than manuals for electronic goods. His method is not prescriptive but suggestive, not linear but associative.
While Why Do Women? managed to create a coherent pattern from references as diverse as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jane Austen and Ernest Jones, Promises has a much harder time in distinguishing the kind-hearted, playful and only slightly self-regarding authorial juggler from the wedding guest with the glittering eye who will insist on telling his story, whatever the matter to hand. Thus, in 20 or so pages, we leap, trampling over synapses, holding up our skirts with safety pins, from Liz Hurley's Versace dress as worn by Divine and what that says about assuming the image of another woman, to a recurring discussion on why men need to split women into idealised and degraded images (it has to do with Mom). We then fling ourselves further out on a limb with the Spice Girls (sameness but difference) which leads to mother and daughters (ditto but complicated) and on to the Merry Wives of Windsor, after which we fall back on two Leaderean preoccupations, Daphne du Maurier and Freud's Dora. Eventually, Leader will cry, with decreasing conviction: "Which bring us back to the theme of promises."
Does Leader's title promise a book about promises? And, if so, has the act of making the promise rendered it null and void? Does it matter that he touches only lightly on the subject when he throws up so much else of interest? And in throwing up (of course, I use the term deliberately) so very much, is it important that the connective tissue fails to sustain the whole? This is a question of individual preference.
Faber & Faber, pounds 9.99.
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Mike Tindall, Jodie Kidd and co take to the slopes
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Game of Thrones, season 5: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as he can keep his clothes on
Thrill of the chaste: The truth about Gandhi's sex life
Martin Scorsese 'in shock' after death on set of new film Silence
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures